How to Hook Up a DBX Compressor Into a Mixer

By Greg Jackson ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Mixer
  • Power amplifier
  • DBX compressor
  • Power outlet
  • Patch cords
  • Studio monitor speakers
  • Source signal (recorded music media, live voice or instrument signal)
A DBX compressor and a mixer provide a clean sound in any application.

DBX was one of the first quality compression units made available to the public, and they are found in many recording studios today. There are several DBX compressor models that can be used for any recording setup, and integrating one with a mixer is not so difficult to accomplish. All it takes are some patch cords, some pre-planning, and some knowledge of cabling components together.

If they aren't installed permanently, place the mixer and the power amplifier in the desired locations in the sound booth area. Place the DBX compressor nearby (or install the compressor in its permanent location).

Plug the mixer, the power amplifier, and the DBX compressor into the power outlet. Connect the mixer to the power amplifier and the compressor to the mixer using the patch cords.

Plug in the studio monitors to the amplifier (if not already permanently installed and plugged in). Turn on the mixer and the compressor, but not the amplifier.

Set all volume pots (controls) on the mixer and the DBX compressor (if any) to 0. Connect the source signal to the mixer in the desired input channel using patch cords (recorded media), microphone cable, or instrument cable.

Set the amplifier and compressor volume pots to a low level (1, 2, or 3 as needed) and turn the amplifier on. Cue the source signal (start the recorded media, test the microphone, or play the instrument).

Slowly raise the volume on the mixer until the source signal can be heard sufficiently without feedback.

Adjust the settings of controls on the front panel of the DBX compressor one at a time. Experiment with each control setting as the source signal continues to play in order to become familiarized with its functions and to maximize the potential of the compressor.

Tip

The controls of the DBX compressor models vary in some ways, but all models will provide the basic sound parameters (threshold, ratio, gain reduction, attack, release, output).

Try different source signals to learn as much as possible about the capabilities of the compressor.

Warning

Never raise the volume levels of the power amplifier until the source signal has been cued. Doing so will cause an extremely loud feedback nearly every time, and may damage the speakers (and your ears).

About the Author

Greg Jackson is a transcriber, proofreader and editor. Jackson has been writing professionally since 1975, drawing on creative writing courses and personal experiences. His most outstanding work has been as an editor, proofreader and transcriber on two published books, "Douglas Fairbanks: In His Own Words" and "Bohemian Grove: Cult of Conspiracy."